Today, many evil forces have set their sights on the dissolution of marriage and the debasing of family life. Sodomy, abortion, contraception, pornography, the redefinition of marriage, and the denial of objective truth are just some of the forces threatening the stability of our civilization. The source of these machinations is none other than the Father of Lies. Satan knows all too well the value that the family contributes to the fabric of a good solid society, as well as the future of God's work on earth.- Archbishop John Nienstedt
MINNEAPOLIS, MN (Catholic Online) - Some of my readers may not know that in a 33 year legal career I served as a prosecuting attorney twice. That is why I understand the implications of the news out of Minneapolis, Minnesota on March 12, 2014.
The allegation against Archbishop John Nienstedt was that he improperly touched a boy upon whom he had the privilege of conferring the Sacrament of Confirmation. The allegation was false. The Prosecuting attorney of Ramsey County informed reporters that, after a lengthy and through investigation, they would not file charges.
The allegation arose after of a confirmation ceremony on May 5, 2009. A boy complained that the Archbishop touched his buttocks during a group picture of those who had just received the Sacrament. When I first read of the allegation, especially as a former prosecutor, I was highly suspect.
I am now convinced my suspicions were correct.
On December 16, 2013, almost four years after the confirmation, an incident report was filed with the police. Now, after an extensive and public investigation, photographic evidence, witness statements and all other evidence proved the utter impossibility of the allegation.
Yet, this humble and courageous man of God, this good Catholic Archbishop, voluntarily stepped aside from ministry during the investigation.
Many of the news reports of the incident presumed that the incident had actually occurred. I am sure it pained this man of God deeply. I cannot even imagine the emotions this Archbishop must have felt! Put yourself in his shoes.
I believe that his stalwart defense of children in the womb against being killed by procured abortions, as well as his defense of the truth concerning marriage as solely possible between one man and one woman, have made him a target of those who oppose the Catholic Church in her fidelity to the Natural Moral Law.
However, in his genuine humility and love for the Lord, Archbishop John Nienstedt did not complain once. He did the honorable and humble thing. He stepped aside from public ministry and continued to pray for the child, his family and the Church he serves with such fidelity and love.
His reaction to the news of his complete vindication on Tuesday, March 12, 2014, gives us a further testimony to the goodness of this Bishop:
I am thankful to the Saint Paul Police for their thorough investigation, as well as to the Ramsey County Attorney's office for their professional work regarding this matter. I look forward to returning to public ministry during this Lenten season, especially during Holy Week and the great feast of Easter.
While I look forward to my return to public ministry, I remain committed to the ongoing work needed to provide safe environments for all children and youth. I continue to offer my prayers for all victims, their families and their communities, as well as to all who have been harmed by clergy sexual abuse. I once again offer my apology to all who have been affected by these terrible offenses.
Among many in the legal profession there is an adage concerning the likelihood of certain indictments in high profile cases such as this one. Perhaps you have heard it, "They will indict a ham sandwich".
As someone who has been there, it is too often reflective of the truth. It does not take much to indict these days. Especially in high profile cases. The fact that this high profile Archbishop was not indicted is indicative of the utter dearth of any evidence.
In other words, this was a false allegation!
Now, this heroic and courageous Archbishop will resume his public ministry. Thank God. We need him.
In one of his pastoral letters, the Bishop of Hippo, St. Augustine, wrote concerning being a Bishop, "Believe me, brothers and sisters, if what I am for you frightens me, what I am with you reassures me. For you I am the bishop; with you I am a Christian."
Augustine once compared a Bishop who lacked the necessary courage to preach the Gospel and defend the faith to "a scarecrow standing in a vineyard."
The series of sermons from St. Augustine to pastors is offered in the Office of Readings of the Liturgy of the Hours every year. It inspires me more and more, the older I get.
Fortunately, in every age, the Church has been blessed with heroic Bishops willing to stand for truth in the face of fierce opposition. In this age we have many and, as my readers know, I regularly try to call the attention of our readers to them.
One of the heroic Bishops of this critical moment in Church history is the Most Rev John Nienstedt, the Archbishop of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.
In his apostolic exhortation on the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Charity, Pope Emeritus Benedict summarized the duty of Bishops, other Clergy and all of the faithful when confronted with the current cultural assault on authentic marriage:
Marriage and the family are institutions that must be promoted and defended from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature, since whatever is injurious to them is injurious to society itself.
Archbishop John Nienstedt understands the obligation and has been heroic in his defense of marriage and the family. He also understands his vocation as a teacher. I wrote about him back in 2010, when along with his brother Bishops in Minnesota, he engaged in a six week catechetical campaign to do all that he could to ensure that the faithful understood the truth about marriage and the family and society founded upon it.
A DVD entitled Preserving Marriage in Minnesota was sent to all Catholics to help them properly inform their conscience and engage in political participation based upon the truth concerning Marriage as revealed in the Natural Law, confirmed by Revelation and consistently taught by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. It was not only well done, it was an absolutely accurate representation of the unchangeable truth concerning marriage.
He was pilloried in the propaganda Press for his heroic effort to stem the assault on marriage in his home State. Then, as a result of his fidelity and courage in defending the truth about marriage and family, this noble Archbishop faced an unrelenting assault in the Media for months!
On Aug 2, 2013, he spoke at the NAPA Institute Conference for Catholic Leaders. The conference gathers Catholic leaders yearly to hear addresses based upon the teachings of the Church and discuss their application.
The Archbishop gave a brilliant talk entitled Family as the Foundation of Culture. It was another statement of the clear teaching of the Catholic Church. It was well researched and footnoted, in its written form.
This was not an extemporaneous speech or some kind of rant as so many of the press reports tried to depict it. In fact, it was so well done that it is a great resource for anyone engaged in defending marriage and family. It can be read in its entirety and downloaded here.
The assault on the Archbishop, as a result of his clear teaching on marriage and family, has been brutal. Many in the propaganda media attempted to depict him as some kind of fringe demagogue.
To the contrary, Archbishop Nienstedt offered a well reasoned defense of marriage, a blueprint which should be taken up and used on many fronts of our effort to defend marriage. You can view the entire presentation here. I URGE everyone of my readers to do so. I URGE any media reading this article to do so. This is the teaching of the Catholic Church. Period. It will not change because it cannot change. It is true.
In a part his lengthy address dealing with "two views of marriage", he made the following observation: "If indeed marriage is the foundation of the family and the family is the cornerstone of society, then it is essential to the progress of any civilization that the consequences of choosing between a conjugal view or a revisionist view of marriage be weighed carefully and thoughtfully, especially in regard to the other negative forces that are impinging on the social reality of family life.
Today, many evil forces have set their sights on the dissolution of marriage and the debasing of family life. Sodomy, abortion, contraception, pornography, the redefinition of marriage, and the denial of objective truth are just some of the forces threatening the stability of our civilization. The source of these machinations is none other than the Father of Lies. Satan knows all too well the value that the family contributes to the fabric of a good solid society, as well as the future of God's work on earth.
The propaganda media supporting the Cultural Revolutionaries who want to deny that marriage is solely between one man and one woman used that section as fodder for their assault. Of course, the Archbishop was absolutely correct. Satan is the enemy of the Church.
Is there a connection between his outspoken defense of the family and the trial he has faced due to this false allegation? I think so. I am not saying the family of the accuser or even the one who filed the complaint had any ill will or evil intent.
Rather, I am simply affirming the fact that, in the words of the Apostle Paul "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Eph. 6:12)
In other words, not only is the devil real and malevolent, but he is angry when courageous men of God like Archbishop John Nienstedt expose his lies and defend the truth, out of love! The family is a domestic church, the first cell of the whole Church. It is no surprise that it is specifically targeted by the enemy. This is not some kind of fringe notion, it is simply the Christian claim - and well presented at that.
Marriage and family have been inscribed by the Divine Architect into the order of creation. Marriage is ontologically between one man and one woman, ordered toward the union of the spouses, open to children and formative of family. Family is the first vital cell of society; the first church, first school, first hospital, first economy, first government and first mediating institution of our social order. The future of a free and healthy society passes through marriage and the family.
Marriage as existing solely between one man and one woman was not an idea manufactured by religion or civil government. It precedes both. Though affirmed, fulfilled, and elevated by our faith, the truth that marriage can exist only between one man and one woman is not based on religion or revelation alone, but on the Natural Moral Law, written on the human heart and discernible through the exercise of reason.
This claim of the existence of such a Natural Moral Law is the ground upon which every great civilization has been built. It is the source of every authentic human and civil rights movement. This Natural Moral Law gives us the norms we need to build truly human and humane societies and govern ourselves. It should also inform our positive law or we will become lawless and devolve into anarchy.
Those openly attacking Archbishop Nienstedt are also openly attacking classical, orthodox, faithful Christianity. Of course, they are specifically attacking the Catholic Church because it is the greatest defender of the truth concerning marriage and family - and it will not, because it cannot - compromise that truth.
I stand with Archbishop Nienstedt and invite you to do the same. Read the speech, watch the video, and pray for this good man in the wake of his painful ordeal. This is a courageous Bishop. He embodies the words of Augustine, "For you I am the bishop; with you I am a Christian."
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